And now ...
Vittorio hung from the trapeze, slowly swinging to and fro, upside down, in the catcher's position. He'd been the catcher for his family for as long as he could remember. The memories of his father, the man who had taught him how to catch, were dimmed by the passage of time, to the point it seemed that he had always been the catcher - that there had never been anyone else.
He swung to and fro. On his trapeze. Where he felt comfortable. Where he felt safe. Where he felt as if he were in control. Hanging by his knees.
He swung to and fro. It had been a week now since he had dropped his daughter. She lived long enough to tell him that it was okay, it wasn't his fault, and that she loved him.
He swung to and fro. Not his fault. But he knew it was. The flyers were always sloppy. A good catcher knows that. A good catcher is prepared for that. A good catcher never drops anyone - no matter how sloppy they are. And his family worked without a net. Doubly important that he, the catcher, be ready for the sloppy flyers and catch them. Always catch them. Keep them safe.
He swung to and fro. He thought maybe he was too old now. He thought maybe now, now they would not trust him any longer. He thought a good catcher cannot work without trust from his flyers. Without trust from his family.
So he swung to and fro. Lost in thought and memories of his daughter. He never saw her until she was at the top of her first swing.
"Andriana! What are you doing?"
"Look at me Grandfather!! I'm flying!!"
"Andriana! Down!! Go Down!!! Catch the stand and go back down the ladder!"
"No Grandpa! No! You must catch me!!
The two of them swung back and forth. To and fro. A ballet of grace and beauty. And danger.
"Andriana, please? Go below. I dropped your mother. I don't want to drop you!!"
"Grandfather, you are not going to drop me. You're going to catch me."
"There is no net, child, and I have never caught you before. Please, this is insane."
"No, Grandfather, it is not. I have been practicing with my brother. He catches like you do. You've taught him. And my mother taught me. You will catch me."
The two of them swung back and forth. To and fro. In their ballet. Their dangerous ballet.
"Catch the stand, child. Your swing is poorly timed. You must time it properly. Start over."
She stood on the stand, trapeze in one hand, holding the guy rope in the other, leaning out over the empty void between her and the ground, getting ready to swing toward her catcher.
She had to time it perfectly. Just at the top of his swing toward her, she would pull up on her trapeze, reach out with her other hand and grab on, and swing out over the emptiness, then back, and then a second swing toward him, and then back, and at the top of the backswing she would pull herself up on the bar so it was across her hips and she would lay on the bar in the forward swing and at just the right moment she would launch herself forward into midair and her Grandfather would come up from below her and their arms would lock together and he would swing her down, and back and throw her out and spin her around so she caught her bar again, and she would swing back up onto her stand.
She launched herself.